LENOX, Mass. – Shakespeare & Company has announced its second annual Plays in Process series, spotlighting two new, in-workshop plays. Plays in Process offers patrons an opportunity to peer into the process of playmaking, celebrating Shakespeare & Company’s long-held mission to champion and nurture theater’s creative process.

The two new works presented as readings are Three Tall Persian Women by Anita Abdinezhad, performing July 16 at 1 p.m., and The Aves by Jiehae Park, performing July 16 at 4 p.m. Both plays will be staged at the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre.

In Three Tall Persian Women, Golnar, a punkish Iranian-American millennial, returns home to her mother, Nasrin, for the anniversary of her father’s passing, and walks into hoards of family memorabilia that her grandmother, Mamani, has moved in with her. This play is about generational differences, grief, control, and learning to let go of it. But more than anything, it is a love story to our immigrant mothers.

The Aves takes place over the course of a year, as an older man and woman sit on a park bench, talking about birds, and betting on the rain. The Aves is a funny-sad play about getting older in a future that’s closer than we think.

Tickets are $20 for each show; combination same-day tickets for The Aves and Three Tall Persian Women are available for $30. Tickets may be purchased online or by calling the Box Office at (413) 637-3353; limited seating is available. 

The cast and crew of Three Tall Persian Women features:

Anita Abdinezhad (Playwright)Abdinezhad is thrilled to be collaborating with Shakespeare & Company on her first full-length play. She is a writer and actor based in Los Angeles and New York, N.Y. Her writing credits include Three Tall Persian Women (the one-act) at San Francisco Playhouse and Fareeda’s Phantasias (½ comedy pilot), a semi-finalist at Sundance Episodic Lab. Acting credits include Broadway: POTUS, or Behind Every Great Dumbass are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive, (Shubert Theatre); Off-Broadway: Persian Pod (Ars Nova), Bismillah (Wild Project), and The Welcoming Committee (The Lark); TV and Film: Girls on the Bus (HBO Max), Evil (Paramount+), Ahamed’s Ramadan Diary (Comedy Central), and Eradication (Tubi). Abdinezhad is also a co-creator with Dalia Ashurina on an exciting ½ hour comedy pilot, Understudies.

Nicole Ansari (she / her) (Nasrin)Nicole Ansari is happy to be back at Shakespeare & Company after performing here last year in the Irish play The Approach. Her career started in European theater and film and has expanded to many countries, languages, and cultures. She performed with the famed Theater du Soleil under Ariane Mnouchkine, both in Paris and on tour, and has starred in numerous plays at the Public Theatre in Vienna, in Zuerich, London, and NY (Irma la douce; Much Ado About Nothing; Hamlet; Daybreak; I am Antigone, etc). Nicole originated her role in Tom Stoppard’s Rock N’ Roll, directed by Trevor Nunn at the Royal Court in London, and went on to perform in the West End and on Broadway. Her most recent creation is the multimedia show She/Her which started at PS21, Performance Space for the 21st Century, and had a successful run at the Assembly rooms at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2023. A version with Iranian women’s voices is commissioned by La Mama in NYC for this Nov/ Dec. Nicole also starred in Joshua Sobol’s Sinners at the Playground Theatre in London, directed by her husband Brian Cox, and worked with Waterwell at Here Arts NYC in Stephano Massini’s 7 Minutes. She most recently filmed the feature What a Feeling in Vienna. Current Films VOD: the Civil Rights drama Son of the South (executive produced by Spike Lee); Remember Me with Bruce Dern; and Steven Soderbergh’s Side Effects. TV: Succession (HBO); Law and Order (Peacock); Hit and Run (Netflix), FBI (CBS). Directing credits: Messy (Best Director Award at the British Web Fest & Socially Relevant Film Festival); The Dhammapada and the prelude to John Taverner’s Quartett: Towards Silence (both at the Rubin Museum of Art); Tina Goes to Town; Padim at PS3. Producing credits: Blumenthal; As Good as Dead; the upcoming Glenrothan directed by Brian Cox. Upcoming: “The Score”, directed by Trevor Nunn at the Theatre Royal in Bath, UK. Nicole also started an online community for creators called “actors rising.” 

Ellena Eshraghi (she / her) (Golnar)Ellena Eshraghi is an Iranian-American actor and writer from Southern California. She graduated in May 2022 from NYU Tisch with a BFA in Drama and Dramatic Writing. Off Broadway: HOUND DOG (Ars Nova), Erastes (The Wild Project). Film: Mean Girls: The Musical (Paramount). She recently wrote and acted in the pilot Minor Inconvenience. She is thrilled to be working with Shakespeare & Company this summer.

Pooya Mohseni (she / her) (Mamani)Pooya Mohseni is a multi award-winning Iranian American actor, writer, filmmaker and transgender activist. She recently appeared in the world premiere of The Sex Party (Menier Chocolate Factory) in London. Her other stage performances include her Obie win in the Pulitzer and Obie-winning play English (Atlantic Theater Company), Hamlet (Play On Shakespeare Festival), One Woman (United Solo), She,He,Me (National Queer Theater), Our Town (Pride Plays), Galatea (The WP Project), The Good Muslim (EST), White Snake (Baltimore Center Stage), and the Audible production of Chonburi Hotel & The Butterfly Club (Williamstown Theater Festival). Her film and television credits include Law & Order: SVU, Big Dogs, Falling Water, Madam Secretary, Terrifier and See You Then, streaming on all digital platforms. She’s part of the advisory council for The Ackerman Institute’s Gender & Family Project. She’s represented by Headline Talent Agency and TGTalent.

Afsheen Misaghi (he / him) (Arash)Afsheen Misaghi is a performer and two time Tony Award® nominated producer (New York, New York, The Piano Lesson) based in New York. He has performed at numerous regional theaters including Mosaic Theater Company, Barrington Stage Company, Stageworks Theatre, American Stage Theatre Company, the Weathervane, and Gulfshore Playhouse. TV credits include Succession, The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, Power Book II: Ghost, FBI: Most Wanted, and Normal for Now. He received his BA in Theatre from West Virginia University, MFA in Theatre from the University of Florida, was a part of the 2022 ViacomCBS Showcase, and is a Fulbright alumnus. 

Michelle Joyner  (she /her) (Stage Directions)Michelle Joyner is an actor, writer, and director and is always happy to be here at  Shakespeare & Company! Last season Michelle played Anna in The Approach and directing credits at the company include The Waverly Gallery (Assoc. Dir. with Tina Packer), The Winter Studio Festivals of Plays, The Valentine’s Surprise Show (Co-dir. with Allyn Burrows). She just finished directing a critically acclaimed run of The Stones at The Great Barrington Public Theater, where last season she directed The Shot, starring Sharon Lawrence which has gone on to other award-winning productions around the country. Locally she has acted and directed for The Radius Festival (Berkshire Playwrights Lab) and performed an original short play Asking for a Friend (Theater Fest), She/Her, directed by Nicole Ansari at PS21 and last season at The Edinburgh Festival, Scotland, and Annapurna at The Chester Theater. Notable stage roles include the premiere of Life Sentences by Richard Nelson at The Second Stage, NY (opposite Edward Herrmann), and Romeo and Juliet (opposite Michael Cerveris and Viggo Mortensen) at IRT. She has a prolific acting career in television and film and has written ten studio screenplays, and is a repeat performer at THE MOTH.

Dalia Ashurina (she / her) (Directing Consultant)Dalia currently serves as the Associate Director of Sweeney Todd on Broadway. Previous to ST, she served as the Resident Director of Phantom of the Opera at the Majestic Theater. Her directing focuses on explosive theatricality and changing the narrative on Middle Eastern women. Her most recent new play development work has been seen at Wayward Artists Ensemble, SF Playhouse, Dixon Place, Access Theatre, and heard on the Parsnip Ship Radio Theatre Podcast. She is an alumnus of the Allen Lee Hughes Fellowship in Directing at Arena Stage and before that, assisted at Center Theatre Group and Cornerstone Theatre. She is also an Alum of UC Irvine, Claire Trevor School of the Arts. 

The cast and crew of The Aves features:

Jiehae Park (Playwright)Jiehae Park’s plays include Peerless (Yale Rep, Primary Stages), Hannah & the Dread Gazebo (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Here We Are Here (Sundance, Berkeley Rep’s Ground Floor, Princess Grace WIP @ Baryshnikov Arts Center), The Aves (Alley All-New, McCarter Spotlight Festival), contributions to Wondrous Strange (Humana/ATL), and the book for the upcoming musical Kill the Boyband. Her awards include Steinberg, Leah Ryan Prize, Princess Grace Award, Weissberger, ANPF Women’s Invitational, and Blackburn Finalist. Development projects include Soho Rep, the Public, p73, ACT, CTG, Atlantic, Dramatists Guild Fellowship, Ojai, and the amazing Ma-Yi Writers Lab. Commissions includePlaywrights Horizons, Yale Rep, Geffen, OSF, and MTC/Sloan. Residencies include MacDowell, Yaddo, Hedgebrook, McCarter/Sallie B. Goodman. As a performer, she most recently appeared in Celine Song’s ENDLINGS (NYTW, ART), and Ripe Time/Naomi Iizuka’s adaptation of Murakami’s SLEEP (BAM Next Wave, Yale Rep). For TV, she has written for Hulu, Apple, & Anonymous Content. Former Tow Fellow and Hodder Fellow; current NYTW Usual Suspect, Lincoln Center Theater writer in residence, and New Dramatist.

Raye Birk (Old Man)Raye Birk has worked in regional theaters throughout the country including playing nine seasons with the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco and 15 seasons at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, appearing in productions of THE SUNSHINE BOYS, THE CRUCIBLE, LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT, OTHELLO, A DELICATE BALANCE, FAITH HEALER, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, 1776, THE GREAT GATSBY, THE WINTER’S TALE, PYGMALION, MACBETH, and nearly 500 performances as Scrooge in A CHRISTMAS CAROL. He performed with Mark Rylance in New York and London’s West End in the Guthrie-spawned production of NICE FISH. Mr. Birk played at the Chester Theatre in Massachusetts In CURVE OF DEPARTURE. During his 20 years in Los Angeles, he appeared in nearly 150 television shows, including recurring roles on LA LAW, THE WONDER YEARS, COACH, CHEERS and GOLDEN GIRLS, BABYLON 5, X-FILES, SEINFELD, and STAR TREK. His feature films include NAKED GUN, DOC HOLLYWOOD, THROW MOMMA FROM THE TRAIN, and A SERIOUS MAN.

Emily Kuroda (Old Woman)Emily Kuroda worked at South Coast Rep (Fast Company, Our Town, Ballad of Yachiyo), TheatreWorks (Language Archives, Calligraphy), New York Theatre Workshop (Endlings), Yale Rep (Today is My Birthday), Pan Asian(Brothers Paranormal), American Repertory Theater(Endlings), Page 73(Today is My Birthday), Actors Theater of Louisville(we, the invisibles), Huntington Theater(Tiger Style, Woman Warrior), Artists at Play(Two Mile Hollow), Alliance Theater (Tiger Style), Sundance Theater Lab (Today is My Birthday, A Cage of Fireflies),East West Players (over 30 productions), Kirk Douglas, Mark Taper Forum, Public Theater, La Jolla Playhouse, Seattle Rep, Singapore Repertory, Berkeley Repertory, The Doolittle, LATC, Zephyr, LA Women’s Shakespeare Company, and the Los Angeles Shakespeare Festival. Selected TV: Mrs. Kim in Gilmore Girls, All Rise. The Good Doctor, The Resident, Drop Dead Diva, Sequestered, and as Sister Veronica in the upcoming series The Power for Amazon. Recent Films: Kimi, Porcupine, Take the 10, Party Boat, Red, Yellow Face and Sensei. Awards: Dramalogue Ikebana, The Maids, Minamata, The Golden Gate, and Visitors from Nagasaki – LA Commendation (About Love) – Garland Straight As a Line. Entertainment Today (Winter People).

Kalyne Coleman* (she / her) (Young Woman)Kalyne Coleman was born and raised in Richmond, Va. She can be seen in a major recurring role on AMC’s hit drama series Interview with the Vampire, based on the acclaimed film of the same name and written by Rolin Jones. She can be seen in guest star roles on CBS’ hit series So Help Me Todd and Evil. Kalyne is a University of Pennsylvania alum and a recent graduate of Brown/Trinity Rep’s MFA Acting program. In the fall of 2020, Kalyne was chosen to participate in ABC’s Discovers Showcase. Her Off-Broadway credits include: Four, What To Send Up When It Goes Down (BAM),  Lorraine H. & Nikki G., Lessons in Survival (Vineyard Theater); and Leigh, America v. 2.1 The Sad Demise and Eventual Extinction of the American Negro (Barrington Stage). She sends unbounded gratitude to her incredible parents, family, and friends for their unconditional love and support. 

Kené Chelo Ortiz (Young Man)Kené Chelo Ortiz found his passion for acting at his local church in the Bronx, where he was born and raised, before going on to graduate The London Academy of Music & Dramatic Arts. His credits included Angel in Jesus Hopped the A Train as well as Matt in The Spalding Suite. He then went on to be featured as the lead Raheim, in Theatre Row’s off-Broadway production of B-Boy Blues as well as Fulton Theatre’s world Premiere of For Colored Boyz where he played Man in Green. Kené also starred as Astolfo in Baltimore’s Center stage adaptation of Life is But a Dream Directed by Stevie Walker-Webb. Kené is ecstatic to be a part of the reading and thanks God and his family for their support.

Josiah Davis  (he / him) (Director)Josiah Davis is a director, choreographer, performer, and designer whose work intersects expressive movement, live music, emerging technology, and ritual to breathe new life into physical storytelling. He is the Associate Artistic Director of On The Verge Theatre Company-Santa Barbara, a New York Theatre Workshop 2050 Fellow, Clubbed Thumb Directing Fellow, and Soul Directing Resident with the National Black Theatre. He received an MFA from Brown/Trinity Rep in Directing and a BA from UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television. Recent work: Clyde’s (Alabama Shakes), Clyde’s (Arkansas Rep), AMANI (NBT/Rattlestick), Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief (TheatreWorksUSA), Omar Offrendum’s Little Syria (BAM), Asst. Director-Mr.Saturday Night (Broadway).

About Shakespeare & CompanyShakespeare & Company was founded in 1978 by Tina Packer. Located in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, the Company offers performance, education, and actor-training opportunities year-round, and attracts more than 40,000 patrons annually with a core of more than 150 artists. For more information, visit shakespeare.org.

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